Archive for February 2013

Busy Busy

I have so much to do, AAAAAHHHHHGH. My graduation date is creeping up on me, and so my attention is shifting from internship and school related work to the post grad life. On the one hand, it’s more stressful, because student loans will be upping the financial pressure and I will be most likely losing my student job at the same time, but on the other I can’t wait, because opportunity will become that much more free form when I am no longer required to adhere to academic requirements.

One of the hard truths about LIS education is that there is just too much to learn to fit into two years of education, and at the same time the classroom is not always the best way to gain that education. The old joke/adage/lamentation is that Library Science may be a practical field, but Library Science education likes to go for the theoretical. What that basically means is that if you’re serious about getting out of school with a competitive skillset you better be doing something more than going to class on time. This problem becomes obvious when you look at job postings. Two to five years of direct experience for most job, demonstrated skills, etc… How much of our classroom experience counts? On the one hand, we did learn something. On the other, is what we learned what prospective employers want from us? It can be difficult to tell.

Typically when that all important question, “If you had one super power, what would it be,” comes up, my answer is something like indestructibility, but right now I’d be happy with mind reading. If only I could peer into the brains of the people in charge of hiring decisions.

That’s one of the reasons I like Hiring Librarians so much. It takes some of the opacity out of the process by getting hiring librarians to answer questions about the resume and interview process. Some of that information inspires terror (some of the stuff people say matters I never would have considered), but mostly all I feel is relief. If there are so many differing opinions on what the right way to do something is, it’s simply impossible for me to do it perfectly every time, so I can stop sweating the small stuff and get to the meat of the process.

 

Music

Yesterday night I attended St. Martin’s Choir’s Tenebrae concert. It was a small, event, with maybe fifty or so attendees and a choir of 13. It was wonderful, as their concerts always are, but I think I like the larger scale of the usual choir size more. I’m always one of the youngest people at these things. Sometimes there’s a kid that comes with their parents, or someone my age who has an obvious connection with the group, but other than that it often feels like the audience is composed of a bunch of people aged 60+ and then me. Not that I mind. More people my age should take advantage of the classical music in the area. For one, it’s cheaper than a dubstep concert (by about 60 bucks. I know from experience.) And going to a live choral concert is kind of like going to a spiritual massage. It’s a good way to shake off some of the stress that comes from being a student with bills due.

I’ve missed music a lot. It’s one thing to listen to a few good tracks on the computer and another to go through the process of musical creation, which is something I haven’t done in many years. I’ve been playing instruments since fourth grade, maybe sooner if you count the banging I did on the piano at home, and I kept at it until I graduated high school, at which point my participation in the creation of music dropped off entirely. I left my flute and drums at home when I went to college, and besides a random taiko class my freshmen year and my senior year spent playing rock band I’ve been out of it entirely.

For the last few months now I’ve gotten back into it by buying a pennywhistle. It works perfectly because it’s ten dollars and doesn’t take up any room. I’m used to the concert flute, so the limitations of having only 2 octaves and not much in the way of halftones has been a struggle to figure out, and I was appalled when I went to read some music and realized that I couldn’t anymore, but those difficulties have been more or less overcome. I put about thirty minutes a day away for practice, and playing makes for a nice, tactile break from the computer work that takes up most of my day. Traditional Irish music is an oral tradition, and although there are a lot of websites for traditional Irish session music there’s a lot of emphasis  on just listening, watching, and replicating. I was a very good sight reader back in the day, but learning by ear has always been my weak point, so that’s just another challenge to throw onto the pile.

I live in an apartment complex and have two roommates, so although the walls here are mercifully thick, a high pitched wind instrument played by an amateur can only be tolerated so much. Maybe when I get better I’ll start practicing for an hour at a time instead.

Moving In

Welp, I have finally moved house enough to start posting here, after quite a long bout of silence in the old blog. I’ve been back in Colorado for about a month now, and am putting things in order one by one.

Eventually this site is going to have a front page, but that won’t happen until I have a machine that I can do some design work on. My little netbook is a godsend, but there are some things that it should not do, and designing web pages is one of them.

My old laptop failed on me a little before I went to India. First the CD/DVD drive failed, and then the display drivers started shutting the machine down, and finally I found myself spending an hour to boot the computer every time. At that point I just started relying on the netbook. I’m in the process of finding something new, but today I lost patience with working on a 9″ screen and decided to use the old machine as a test bed. Since everything on it was already backed up, reformatting it was conceivably an easy process. The only problem was that I couldn’t use a boot disk and apparently Windows does not provide .iso files for download (or if they do I failed to find them.)

So I decided to have a go at Ubuntu. I can’t say I like the Ubuntu OS all that much. The lack of a (decent)task bar has already put me into a minor rage as I had to alt+tab through 10 different windows to get what I wanted, and I don’t know if I will adapt to having 4 different workstations to flip between. I wouldn’t need the work stations if I had a task bar! The OS runs slow sometimes, but it’s faster than Win 7 was, and I managed to run the machine for over 4 hours without it shutting down on me, whereas it was dying every 10 minutes before.

The DVD drive is still broken, and I don’t think the format was a long term fix, so I will probably need a new machine in the near future, but at least now I have something to work with.

China In Africa

China In Africa

This past Friday I was able to attend Korbel’s annual China Symposium, which, as the little poster above clearly states, was about China-Africa relations. Did you know that China is Africa’s number one trading partner, and Africa is China’s fourth largest? Or that China maintains a political relationship with 50 of the 54 countries on the continent, and Taiwan has an official relationship with the other 4? Back in my undergrad years I had done some study on the aid war between Taiwan and China, where both countries were competing for official recognition by third party states, but the texts I read were focused on Eastern Europe, and anyway a lot changes in politics in a few years.

Most of the hundred or so participants were involved in international relations in some way. Two of the panelists were US Ambassadors (pretty sure I bored the hell out of one of them during the dinner). I ended up telling people half a dozen times that I was a library science student, and the reactions were mixed. A few people were not aware that library science was a thing. A few more went on the “everything is digital now” track. During dinner I was speaking to a lady who started talking about the archive in Timbuktu, and I had the happy task of informing her than a lot of the material had been evacuated prior to the burning of the buildings by the rebels. It was a little awkward, having nothing to do with Korbel or the Air Force Academy, not speaking Chinese, and probably being the only person in the room with a bunch of metal shoved through their ears, but for most of the day all I really had to do was listen.

The symposium lasted almost 12 hours and was like a booster shot history and policy. After having to endure so much idiotic, pandering rhetoric during the election over the nature of the Chinese threat, it was refreshing to be surrounded by people who had a more nuanced view. Even though most of us were interested in China because of US interests (large Air Force Academy presence there) the discourse itself was almost devoid of any acknowledgement of them. I think most people never even have the experience of learning about modern China from such a perspective.